Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus Settle for Draw vs. Atletico Madrid in UCL Match

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18: Stefan Savic of Atletico de Madrid celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Atletico Madrid and Juventus at Wanda Metropolitano on September 18, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid and Juventus played to a 2-2 draw Wednesday in the 2019-20 Champions League group stage.

This was a rematch from last year's round of 16, when Juve won 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the quarterfinals. The reigning Serie A champions could've used another Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick on this night as well.

With Atletico trailing 2-0, Stefan Savic got a goal back in the 70th minute for the hosts. Hector Herrera delivered the equalizer in the 90th minute.

Ronaldo fired a shot wide in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time as Juventus settled for one point.

Twenty minutes from injury time in the second half, Jose Gimenez headed Koke's free kick into the six-yard box, leaving Savic to finish the job from close range.

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It looked like Atletico would come away as an aggrieved party after the referee waved play on despite a clear handball by Leonardo Bonucci to leave the score at 2-1. Diego Costa received a yellow card in the 83rd minute for arguing the decision.

Herrera rose to the occasion—quite literally—as Juventus left him unmarked on a corner kick by Kieran Trippier. Manager Diego Simeone's reaction on the touchline spoke to the gravity of the moment.

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And yet, Ronaldo nearly wove through the Atleti defense to snatch a winner at the death.

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It's not as simple as pointing to Giorgio Chiellini's ACL injury as the reason for Juventus surrendering a two-goal lead, but his presence was clearly missed.

Juve allowed a Serie A-low 30 goals a season ago. Between this and their 4-3 victory over Napoli, a once-formidable backline may be showing some cracks. Matthijs de Ligt might be one of the best young defenders in the world, but the 20-year-old is bound to face an adjustment as he adapts to his new surroundings.

The night began so brightly for Juventus as Juan Cuadrado scored in the 48th minute and Blaise Matuidi followed with a goal in the 65th minute.

Cuadrado deserves credit for beating one of the world's best goalkeepers in the world. Jan Oblak had no chance to save the shot into the top left corner.

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The buildup play was just as good, with Leonardo Bonucci getting the move started and Gonzalo Higuain threading a perfect pass through the Atletico defense.

Matuidi doubled Juventus' lead with a header from a cross by Alex Sandro. Matuidi didn't place his header well, but the pace left Oblak with no time to react to get more than a shoulder on the ball.

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A stingy defense, especially at home, has been a hallmark of Simeone's eight-year reign. According to OptaJohan, they hadn't surrendered a UCL goal at home since last October.

Few could've predicted Juventus jumping out to a two-goal lead, which was a strong endorsement for Maurizio Sarri's impact in his brief time at the club. Their subsequent capitulation showed there remains work to do.

Coming into the match, one would've expected Juventus to be happy with a draw away from home and Atletico Madrid looking at the outcome as two points lost rather than one point gained.

Because of Atleti's comeback, those roles have effectively reversed. This was a missed opportunity for Juve to climb to the top of Group D, and Simeone will feel fortunate his side is tied for second after the first matchday.

          

What's Next?

Atletico host Celta Vigo on Saturday in its next La Liga fixture. The Madrid club returns to Champions League action Oct. 1 at Lokomotiv Moscow. 

Juventus plays Hellas Verona on Saturday in Serie A and hosts Bayer Leverkusen when it's back in Europe next month.

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